The Day of Second Chances: A Letter to My Mother

My dearest Mummy,

When I started writing my letter to you on this day last year, I did not know where to begin. But today I know exactly where to begin. I guess that itself is a sign of progress, and I know you’ll be happy. You’d never want me to stay trapped in my grief. You’d want me to make the most of this life I still have. I can’t say I’ve made the most of every minute of these last two years, but read on.

I’ll begin at sundown yesterday, when the Second Passover began. Known as Pesach Sheni in Hebrew, the Second Passover is also referred to as the Day of Second Chances, because it was instituted for the Israelites who had missed the Passover due to ritual uncleanness or travel. As the Lord commanded Moses:

“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If any one of you or of your descendants is unclean through touching a dead body, or is on a long journey, he shall still keep the Passover to the Lord. In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight they shall keep it” (Num. 9:10-11). 

Our heavenly Father knows how much I love special occasions, and I felt consoled when I found out that your second anniversary would coincide with Pesach Sheni. Last year, May 5 was our National Day of Prayer, which made that difficult first anniversary somewhat more bearable. Today I’m grateful to be reminded that the Lord is the God of the second chances.

I mentioned in my letter last year how my grief for you had made me so sick that the doctors suspected heart trouble. What I didn’t mention was that in the midst of my physical and emotional suffering, the Holy Spirit gave me the biggest surprise of my life!

My writing career began, as you may recall, with a poem. This was shortly after I had given my heart to Jesus. Nearly fifty years later, I can still remember the precise moment.

Nani had come to visit us in Pune for the first time since we left Lucknow that January. One night after a usual bedtime story, she told me why Jesus had died and asked if I wanted to give my heart to Him.

I will never forget the feeling that rose within me when I heard the question, or the certainty with which I said yes. I bolted up, knelt down by my bed, and gave my heart to Jesus.

Shortly afterwards, I began my literary career with that first poem, and again Nani had a hand in it. I’ll save that story for another day because I must finish telling you about the biggest surprise of my life. 

On the eve of Little Fellow’s seventeenth birthday last year, eight months after you left us, I was laid up with a high fever. After texting Little Fellow, I rose to brush my teeth when for no apparent reason I remembered this self-deprecating limerick from the past:

There once was an Indian American
Writer who wielded her pen
Sometimes in jest
To aid in her quest
For foibles in women and men.

Unaware that God was about to give me the biggest surprise of my life, I recalled other limericks I’d written for a lark. And suddenly this verse was rolling off my tongue:

In the biblical land of Ur
A man named Job did suffer
No comfort was his wife
Whom he’d married for life
Or else he’d surely have left her.

I finished my ablutions with a chuckle and returned to bed. I wasn’t chuckling when I opened my Bible next morning to discover that Job had dwelt in Uz, not Ur, where Abraham had once lived.

I was mortified to realize I knew so little of the Book of Job even though I’ve been reading the Bible for almost half a century. Thankfully my mortification was momentary, for when I read Job 1:1, it struck me in a flash of inspiration that I should tell Job’s story in limericks. And with God’s help, I did.

You would have liked this book, though you couldn’t have read it because I couldn’t have written it until I’d endured the pain of losing you. Maybe we can read it together when I reach the other side.

And so, as I think of that glorious day when we’ll meet again, let me close this letter by saying what I should have said in our last phone call two years ago. Call it my second chance.

Thank you for giving me the gift of life and faith and literature. Even though I inherited my writing ability from Papa, it would have “lodg’d with me useless” had you not nurtured it. Which you did at considerable personal cost.

Thank you for your sacrificial love. It was not in vain.

But then, love is never in vain. I’ve learnt this from you more than any other human being I know.

I will always love you, dearestestest Mummy.

And I will always remain,

Your Favorite Second Daughter

PS – This photo didn’t make me smile as I’d hoped last year, but that mop of curls tugged at my heartstrings. Little Fellow is in college now, and taller than his dad with the hair. Otherwise, a tad shorter. But you already know that, don’t you?

(c) 2023 Sharon Arpana Edwards. All Rights Reserved.

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